He made himself nothing. . . .
— Philippians 2:7
Every December we celebrate the birth of Jesus. So this month we’ve been wondering about the incarnation—how Jesus is human, as human as any of us.
But Jesus is not just human. He is also God. As one of the church’s ancient creeds puts it, he is “true God from true God.”
Does that put limitations on Jesus’ humanness? Does it put an asterisk next to his name? Is Jesus as human as any of us but not the same as any of us?
Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus left behind the advantages of being God, that he made himself nothing, that he humbled himself by becoming human, and that he suffered a shameful death. It sounds like Jesus embraced his humanness completely.
To be human is to be limited. Yes, we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And yes, we are crowned with glory and honor from God (Psalm 8:5). But we are limited beings. Ultimately, we are limited by death. Whatever our strength and skills, whatever our passions and dreams, death will claim us.
Death claimed Jesus too. Jesus, who is eternal God, died. If he shared that ultimate human limitation with all of us, then maybe he shared the whole array of limitations that are part of being human. That’s worth wondering about.
Jesus, our limitations frustrate us. Some of them even scare us. You know this because you experienced it, even the worst of it, for our sake. Thank you. Amen.